Dr. Alexander Cannara is an environmental activist who has been writing letters to antinuclear groups. He gave me permission to republish one of his missives here. The views expressed are his, but they deserve to reach a larger audience.
By Dr. Alexander Cannara
Date: 19 Sept. 2013
Subject: An open letter to groups I’ll no longer support.
To: WaterkeeperAlliance, NRDC, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth
Copy To: NY Times, Washington Post, The Economist, Aljazeera America
Dear Sirs & Madams:
In the interest of conserving time, this letter is shared among you to explain briefly why I’ll be diverting my modest financial support to environmental groups other than yours.
In varying ways, your policies on nuclear power are erroneous and against the interest of the environment & humanity, especially given the more extreme seriousness of problems few of you seem to grasp, and none of you properly explain to your followers.
I’ll be happy to specifically address your policies and their failures separately. Here, I’ll simply summarize some of your common errors regarding nuclear power.
Some of your staffs are degreed in the sciences, but surprisingly many whom you assign to anti-nuclear activities are PolySci grads at best. This places you in the position of creating nuclear-power policies that bring into question the wisdom & correctness of other policies for which you might deserve praise. In other words, your uniformly uninformed anti-nuclear- power biases discredit your other, valuable efforts for our environment.
One example is that of J. Riccio’s ‘successes’ in closing nuclear plants, such as our Rancho Seco, Oregon’s Trojan, and Vermont’s Yankee. This is quite an accomplishment for a Political Science graduate. The reality , however, is that Riccio’s activities, along with others’, simply aided the combustion industry, which has, with help from many naïve, self-described environmentalists, succeeded in converting over 500 billion tons of fossil carbon into $ in their accounts, while dumping that carbon, as carbon dioxide, into our planet’s air & seas. It cannot be cleared in 1500 years.
Should any organization whose staff has achieved a shutdown of non-emitting power via protest & suit be acclaimed? Should those whose ignorance of & naïve bias against nuclear power led them to augur for plant shutdowns rather than safe repairs, be honored?
That’s the question my conscience raises to me when I see the effect on our planet’s air & seas of emissions, heating, acidification, etc. Your policies, though perhaps a bit less than those of combustion folks, have contributed directly to what even Robert Kennedy Jr’s uncle knew must be avoided. And JFK knew how: http://tinyurl.com/6xgpkfa
In my own Sierra Club, a number of us are working to correct the club’s erroneous anti-nuclear policy – one developed in knee-jerk panic after Chernobyl. Little did it matter then to explain that Chernobyl’s RBMK reactor designs are/were illegal outside the Soviet Union. It’s even hard today to find anti-nuclear activists who will stop and think on the facts of Fukushima – a plant long known to be improperly protected. Yet just miles away is Onagawa, properly designed and having served to house refugees from the same quake & tsunami.
We know exactly what happened at both Chernobyl & Fukushima and why, and we know those events had nothing to do with regulated western nuclear power.
So, the efforts of your staffs & organizations against safe nuclear power bring discredit to you and skepticism of other programs you engage in. That saddens me. I won’t further support it.
Your policies, in fact, add to the disease & death counts from combustion power that was not displaced by nuclear. A challenging thought? Indeed, the Trojan plant, Rancho Seco, Shoreham… all shut because of naïve protests rather than strong lobbying for safety in construction & operation, directly added to the burning of coal & gas to make up the lost power. The EPA estimates ~13,000 Americans die each year from just coal emissions. Some of those deaths are on the shoulders of any of us who supported organizations & protests which successfully closed rather than fixed civilian nuclear stations.
I have been among those, indirectly, by contributing to you. That’s over.
If you have any concern at all that you might just possibly have the wrong nuclear policy, I’ll be happy to discuss it. For now, I simply use your policies and naïve anti-nuclear ‘achievements’ as examples for ordinary citizens of how big mistakes are made in the name of “environmentalism” that’s actually driven by personal, uneducated bias.
An example of uninformed bias is NRDC’s latest “Onearth” article on burning grass for power. It evidences no understanding of thermodynamics or that Ma Nature didn’t invent photosynthesis to serve human power demands. In other words, just as the US corn-ethanol debacle has wasted 1⁄2 our corn crop, depleted lands & water, driven corn prices beyond the reach of hungry millions and netted 0.3% conversion of sunlight into vehicle power, NRDC’s staff seems unable to control themselves from misleading members with the absurdity of ‘biomass’ or ‘biofuels’. This unscientific foolishness will bring increasing discredit to NRDC’s opinions and recommendations.
Possibly, this letter is a useless attempt to break through your biases. These folks think I’ll fail: http://tinyurl.com/ktlfch6
What do you think?
Attached is a graphic on relative human costs of power sources, and further references on the facts of nuclear power’s superior safety and environmental impacts appear below. What we need all realize is that if the Kennedy / Johnson administrations’ nuclear programs had been followed properly, we’d have been deploying 1GWe of non-emitting power each week by 1980.
Anti-nuclear and pro-combustion efforts quashed that possibility (see newsprint ad picture against Shoreham in 1980s below), which would have avoided most of the climate/ocean problems we see now as soon arriving. Now, tragic events are unavoidable and our efforts & wisdom must be vastly increased.
Our descendants will indeed have every right to spit on our graves.
Dr. Alexander Cannara
Menlo Park, Calif.
www.unis.unvienna.org/unis/en/pressrels/2013/unisinf475.html (UN report)
Oil Heat Institute fears Shoreham and recommends 1980s solar? Today, local solar is fine, as are EVs, efficient storage and advanced nuclear.